Real or not real? I'm floating on my back in an ocean of blood. I lie there in a state of utter peace and tranquillity, but hat's when they come: the dead. Flying as birds in the open sky above me, the ones I love calling for me to join them, but I can't; the weight of life and love and pain still weighs heavily on my chest, stopping me from going to join them.
The red waves crash over my head, threatening to drown me. It could be hours, days, weeks or even years that I'm trapped. Deep in the ocean of red, all I can hear is the sound of my breathing. I want to stop, but the thick liquid forces itself in and out of my lungs, over and over.
"Let me die! Let me follow the others!"
I beg whatever holds me here, but there's no response. I'm trapped. Lost. Dead, but not allowed to die.
Eventually, the sound of my breathing dies away, to a mechanical beeping. With every heartbeat, a mechanical beep. Air, rather than liquid fills my lungs. Red gives way to darkness, and soon, light.
I open my eyes and stare, fascinated by the white light of my surroundings.
"Katniss," a voice calls, pulling me from my trance.
"Katniss," it says again.
Realisation hits me. It's Peeta! Peeta's voice. I inhale through my nose and raise my arm to rip the oxygen mask away from my face. The bed is tilted forwards and I see that, once again, my husband is siting in a chair by my bed. In a little cot with wheels next to him, my baby is lying, asleep. He looks exactly the same as before.
"Peeta!" I say softly.
"You're ok," he says. "I thought I'd never see your eyes open again."
"I'm awake," I reassure him, reaching for his hand.
"What do you remember? The doctor said you might not remember what happened."
"I had the baby… I was holding him. He's… perfect," I smile.
Frowning, I continue.
"There was blood. Everywhere," I remember. "Peeta, why was I bleeding so much? What happened?"
Just then, the doctor walked in, having been alerted to my consciousness by some machine.
"Hello, Katniss. It's good to see you awake again. You had a severe primary post-partum haemorrhage, which means something caused a massive bleed, right after you gave birth. Your low blood pressure was because of this. We think it was because your uterus didn't contract properly after the delivery of the placenta. We gave you a blood transfusion because you lost around seven-hundred millilitres of blood. You've been unconscious for about six hours after the surgery."
"Ok, but the baby's fine, isn't he?" I ask, still anxious.
"Yes, he's absolutely fine and perfectly healthy," she smiles at me.
I sigh in relief.
Our son starts to cry, so I lean forward to pick him up gently and find that my whole body still aches. I hold him against me and his little mouth opens and closes, searching for something.
"I think he's hungry," says Peeta, laughing.
I nod and unbutton my gown, the doctor already instructed me on how to feed him a few weeks ago. He latches on almost immediately and I wince at the strange sensation, which is slightly painful.
After a couple of minutes, he stops feeding. I hold my son upright and pat his back until he burps. I hold him against me, rocking him gently.
As he falls asleep, I turn to Peeta and whisper,
"What shall we call him?"
He appears to be thinking for a moment.
"What about Rye?"
"Rye Mellark… I love it!"
Peeta smiles and leans over to kiss me.
I am informed that I can be discharged from the hospital tomorrow morning, if I continue to make progress overnight. Prim and my mother come to visit me and of course, 'Aunty Prim' obsesses over Rye, cuddling him and playing with him for the entirety of the hour they're allowed to visit us. Apparently the rescue mission was successful and Johanna and Enobaria are in a special section of the hospital. Haymitch, Effie, Finnick, Beetee and Plutarch send their congratulations.